Mechelen is a charming renaissance city situated only 25km from Antwerp, Brussels and Leuven. With its beautiful churches, impressive bell-tower and carillon traditions (bell-ringing), Mechelen is an undiscovered Flemish gem.
The somewhat bemused creation that is the Mechelen landmark, St Rombold’s tower, captures the town’s true historic value. From a distance an impressive attraction can be seen, but close up it looks remarkably unfinished. The architect had intended the building to be the highest tower in all the low countries. Intended to reach the dizzy height of 160m, financial struggles in the 16th century meant construction ceased. The grand design remains incomplete to this day. This monument is open to all visitors with 514 steps to the 97.28m summit. You will love Mechelen’s renowned cut off tower.
The formidable nickname ‘Maneblusser’ derives from this land spot, meaning a man who puts out a fire – legend has it that someone came out of a pub and looked up to St Rumbold’s Tower and thought it was on fire. The citizens of Mechelen were called to extinguish the fire but in fact, much to great embarrassment, the tower had caught the glint of the moon and the fire was simply an illusion or trick of light!
During your stay, be sure to step inside one of Mechelen’s many enchanting churches, featuring artwork and wood engravings by P.P Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck and Lucas Faydherbe, ‘The Crucified Christ’ has to be the pick of the art treasures.
The resounding architecture of Mechelen is just delightful. Taking a stroll around the city you will see every street has beautiful houses and monuments. The Palace of Margaret of Austria, the Archbishops Palace, the Beguinage and the former house of the town council are the definite highlights of this stunning city.
You’re sure to get thirsty after all your sight seeing, so why not become a connoisseur of beer at the Het Anker Brewery? A most excellent beer ‘Gouden Carolus’ is produced and sold here. You can see how it’s made, learn how to pour that all-important pint and enjoy the final product with some thirst quenching samples. Whilst you’re there, you will find it hard to resist (and don’t try too hard!) the famous Mechelen Cuckoo, a native chicken with cuckoo like feathers, which is cooked in beer for a succulent dish. There is even a nice hotel next door, Carolus Hotel, so you don’t have to travel too far after your indulgent night!
Within the city centre of Mechelen and along the charming river Dijle, the café’s and restaurants are blooming. It is an attractive green city with little traffic, which makes this typical Flemish town perfect for shopping. You won’t be alone, with the people of Mechelen, fellow tourists and neighbouring villagers all keen to buy something special on the most popular shopping streets of ‘Bruul’ and ‘IJzerenleen’.
Mechelen is a perfect destination for tourists venturing off the beaten track and in search of a taste of real Flemish life and culture.
To book your trip or to find out more information on Mechelen or Flanders in general go to www.visitflanders.co.uk.
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